About 5 months ago, myself and a handful of friends began the new adventure path from Paizo, Wrath of the Righteous. The inspiration to chronicle the sessions of the game didn’t come to me until recently, however this being ( in my opinion) -the- best adventure path published to date, I felt that I had a responsibility to share the remaining storyline with those who either couldn’t afford to purchase the pdf’s or couldn’t get the group together to run through it.
For those of you who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, I’ll take a step back and explain.
Wrath of the Righteous is the newest publication by Paizo set in the world of Golarion. It is currently the only adventure path that takes the characters from their humble beginnings at level 1 and progresses them entirely through to level 20. Mythic Adventures rules are also a huge part of this campaign, so at the very end, your character is literally the stuff of legend ( mythic tier 10). The game centers around the Worldwound, an area of Golarion desiccated by demons, and the Mendevian Crusades, the people’s response to the Worldwound’s creation. Yes, I’m leaving a lot of detail out, but that is where the game updates will come into play.
With that brief introduction out of the way, I will summarize everything that has happened up until this point, where I will then begin to publish bi-weekly story updates.
The opening of Wrath of the Righteous is my favorite opening to date, followed by the Serpent’s Skull opening ( Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv). Although I do want to continue paraphrasing, I really want to set the gravity and tone of the first session as we were thrust into this game so I will give you the introduction we were given.
“Armasse officially began at noon, with the blessing of the festival by Lord Hulrun himself, ruler of Kenabres. The crowd gathered in Clydwell Plaza quieted as the aged inquisitor took the stage, clad in shining, resplendent armor. He cleared his throat, but just as he was about to speak, a bright light shone from the west, as if the sun were rising from the wrong direction. Hulrun’s shadow fell huge and distorted across the cathedral’s facade. A moment later, the sound of a thunderous explosion ripped through the air and earth, along with a violent tremor.
To the west, the fortress known as the Kite-the location of Kenabres’s wardstone-had vanished. In its place, a brilliant plume of red fire, lightning, and smoke erupted into the heavens.
A moment later, a powerful roar accompanied a welcome sight rising from the crowd- Kenabres’s greatest guardian, the ancient silver dragon Terendelev, who had until that moment been attending the opening ceremony disguised as a human. Above, another form appeared, as nightmarish as the dragon was breathtaking. A humanoid shape, three times the size of any man, with skin coated in fire and lightning, gripped a flaming sword and whip. The creature’s identity was immediately obvious: Khorramzadeh, the Storm King of the Worldwound, had come to Kenabres!
As the ground continued to shake and disgorge demons into the streets, the dragon and the balor lord clashed above. The fight was over in a few harrowing moments, as the balor cut deep into Terendelev’s body, swooping down to strike the dragon and arresting her charge. A few more blows, and the titanic duo spiraled toward the crowd.
The sight of the dragon smashing into the facade of the Cathedral of St. Clydwell is one no witness would ever forget. At that moment, a titanic demon erupted at the far end of the plaza, reducing several buildings to ruins as it smashed into this world. The rift it created shot across the plaza, and this time there was no escape- it opened below your feet, angling away into darkness.
Even as you fell, the dragon noticed your plight. Though she saw death standing over her, she seized this final chance to save a few more souls. After she uttered a few arcane words and stretched out a bleeding talon, you felt her magic take hold of you, slowing your plummet into the darkness as if you were feathers falling into a pit. Yet, the fall remained inexorable, and as you drifted downward into the depths, the last thing you saw was the Storm King standing before the ancient silver dragon, his sword lashing out and cleaving full through her neck. As her severed head fell, the rift above you slammed shit, and the light of the world above was gone.”
(Scott, Amber E.) (2013) Wrath of the Righteous, The Worldwound Incursion; Paizo Publishing, LLC
Artwork by Wayne Reynolds, Paizo Publishing LLC, 2013
Once the adventurers reach the bottom of the fall, they discover a number of other people who have fallen with them. Anevia Tirabade, who is afflicted with a badly broken leg, Aravashnial, blinded from a crack of the storm king’s whip, and Horgus Gwerm, only slightly battered, thankfully. The way the adventure incorporates NPC’s is really interesting to me. Yes, there have been other NPC characters to develop friendships with PC’s in the past, but I feel like this adventure really enforced the opportunity for enhanced character development.
Anevia Tirabade, the woman with the broken leg, is a skilled rogue and primarily uses a bow. Unfortunately, she is not at her fullest potential when she is first encountered because of her crippled leg. She is quite easy to befriend and over time, you come to realize her only motivation for getting out of the darkness was to reunite with her wife, Irabeth Tirabade a half-orc paladin. I have also been reading recently that there was a large kurfuffle over this relationship in the real world. Although this isn’t the first LGBT relationship in the Pathfinder adventures, the fact that Anevia is found out later to be a transgender woman has some people’s feathers all in a ruffle. Personally, I really love this part of the adventure path because once reunited *spolier* Irabeth and Anevia’s relationship is so loving that you can’t help but be enamored with them. Although shocking to some, learning that Anevia was finally able to find happiness and the love of her life after she underwent the change was really a touching moment for me.
Anevia Tirabade, Paizo Publishing LLC
Aravashnial is an elven Riftwarden, a group sworn to do everything in their power to protect the boundaries between different planes. Blinded, he is still very valuable in the first few encounters and continues on tremendously in usefulness as the adventure progresses. Although he cannot re-prepare his spells after this day is up, he uses whatever he can once he is made agreeable to help everyone make it to the surface safely.
Aravashnial, Paizo Publishing 2013
Horgus Gwerm is about as pleasant as his name is. Spoiled and used to pushing people around, Horgus is the hardest of all the NPC’s to be made friendly. Although he offers many political and economical bonuses if you make it to the surface with him, my group unfortunately couldn’t make his Diplomacy check and he ran off into the darkness and was killed by an upcoming encounter.
Horgus Gwerm, Paizo Publishing LLC, 2013
Although the rest of the cave systems leading up to the street is a good chunk of the beginning of this adventure, it truly is only to further your relationship with the NPC’s as well as to get the NPC’s to overcome some of the prejudices they have towards each other. You find a small city of monegrelmen who are descendants of the first Mendevian Crusaders after they retreated underground, and you have the opportunity to make them friendly to the current cause by killing all of the traitorous mongrelmen who are worshipping Baphomet ( and also gaining one of the coolest treasures ever, Radiance, but more on that later). Our group succeeded in doing this, helping the mongrelmen, now called Descendants of the First Crusaders, come out of their hidey-hole and onto the surface. Eventually, you make it out to the street, to see the desolation of Kenabres with your own eyes.
Once boasting a population of roughly 14,000, immediately after the attack, the city was no more than 4,000. Kenabres was in ruins.
Although the main attack of the demons was complete, there were still many demons that roamed the streets, relishing in the terror and chaos they were causing. Having to carefully pick their way across the city to find safety was difficult, especially with the injured in tow, but after a few encounters and a few more prayers, relative safety was offered by the remnants of an inn, Defender’s Heart, which had now become the final hub for the surviving crusaders. Irabeth and Anevia are reunited and Irabeth, now the senior-most remaining crusader, is acting as leader. After a brief moment to rest, the adventurers go back out into the dangerous ruins to follow up on a few leads from Irabeth as well as Aravashnial and eventually route out a few safe houses for the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth, who had been posing as Mendevian crusaders. With this knowledge, as well as news from another NPC Quendys Orlun, it is realized that there is a remaining piece of the wardstone being kept by the demons in the Gray Garrison, known before the attack as a museum.
Irabeth Tirabade, Paizo Publishing LLC, 2013
If it hasn’t been mentioned already and I truly really do apologize if it hasn’t, the wardstones were incredibly powerful magical artifacts put up to keep the chaos and terror of the Worldwound at bay. In the beginning, the destruction of the Kite was the “oh shit” moment heard across Golarion as it was the only thing( besides the human meat-shields known as the Crusaders) keeping the demons from spilling into Kenabres.
So, here is where the adventure gets better. Better? Is that possible? Yes. Yes it is.
The adventurers are tasked with an incredibly important job. The fragment of the wardstone is being held by Areelu Vorlesh, the one who was responsible for the original opening of the Worldwound. She is seeking an incredibly powerful artifact called a Nyhandrian crystal that she plans to use on the wardstone shard, turning the entire network of wardstones against the crusaders. Irabeth can’t sacrifice anymore of her forces, nor can she wait for Queen Gallifrey to arrive with her army as they are too far away, so she turns to our beloved adventurers for aid. While the remaining forces lead by Irabeth use diversionary tactics, the adventurers are to sneak into the Gray Garrison and use a Rod of Cancellation on the wardstone to render it inert as it is irreparable.
This part of the story is then ultimately up to the PC’s. Although it is recommended that they attempt subtlety and stealth to get into the Gray Garrison, there really is no way to account for each and every option that the players opt for. But, with my adventuring group, we decided on stealth. At least, for the most part.
Sneaking in is no small feat as the once pristine building is now in shambles and choked with roaming demons and cultists. There’s this really neat mechanic at this point in the game called Devotion Points. Iomedae herself has turned her gaze to the adventurers, and although she cannot directly intervene, the players earn points for accomplishing certain tasks and making certain decisions in the Garrison that Iomedae recognizes. Depending on the points they earn, there are boons at the end of the book that are gained by the players, once they receive their first mythic tier.
Battling through the Gary Garrison is tough, especially if multiple groups are made known of your presence simultaneously. Once you make it through though, you find the wardstone shard, which was being guarded by Minagho, a powerful Lilitu demon and ruler of Raliscrad, but had recently been passed off to a lesser demon, Jeslyn, to guard. Although battling Jeslyn seems a necessity, the group I am playing with managed to rush by her in the first few rounds of combat and touch the Rod of Cancellation to the wardstone shard. At this point, several incredible things happen.
The wardstone shard bursts into hundreds of thousands of pieces, exploding outward and dealing massive amounts of damage to Jeslyn and any of her demon minions still left in the room, though miraculously not to any of the adventurers. For my group, this helped immensely as the terrible threat was neutralized before it got too rough for us. A bright golden glow fills the spot where the wardstone stood and in the distance, the remaining wardstones can be seen exploding in the same way, emanating the same golden glow. This result was not anticipated by the crusaders, however it burned up many thousands of demons who happened to be near the wardstones as well as infusing the adventurers with the overflow of magical energies being released all at once. The Heroes of Kenabres, as the adventurers are now called, glow with a warm golden light and all conditions and wounds are removed from them, healing them completely. Stunned, they receive visions of the first wardstone being erected here in Kenabres, in a ritual involving the Hand of the Inheritor, the herald of Iomedae, a golden, winged angel with a halo of small swords around his head. The next vision is of Khorammzadeh, the Balor Storm King, leading an assault on Kenabres. It shows him lay an attack into the wardstone with all his might, resulting in the tiniest of cracks showing in the stone and his massive sword shattering upon impact. He fled after this, as Terendelev took this opportunity to attack and almost kill him. Next, we see Minagho, a beautiful demonic woman with a long tail, sharp claws, and horns jutting from where her eyes should be, placing the wardstone in the Gray Garrison and using a wish spell to lock it in the cage it had been just in before teleporting away. Finally, a vision that can never happen flashes before the Hero’s eyes- Areelu Vorlesh using a Nyhandria crystal to corrupt the fragment, causing the entire border to flash with nauseating mauve fire that devastates the border cities and transforms countless crusaders into half-fiend slaves of the Worldwound.
Suddenly, the Heroes are no longer stunned. Before them is projected an image of a transparent beautiful demonic woman with bat like wings, a horned brow, and glowing red eyes. She regards the Heroes with a smoldering, furious expression, then says,” This only delays your kind’s extinction. But at least I can take steps to hasten your own.” Irabeth charges, but Areelu waves her hand and Irabeth stops dead, beginning to suffocate. She looks frustrated at the fact that the spell is not harming the Heroes and says,” The death throes of your wardstone seem to be protecting you from my magic. No matter. They cannot protect your from my slaves!”
With this, she spreads her arms wide and a rift tears open in reality. A half-dozen babau demons tumble through into the room and beyond them, glimpses of more powerful demons preparing to enter are caught. In that moment, the golden energy infusing the Heroes bursts back outward, ending the suffocation of Irabeth and slamming shut the abyssal rift created by Areelu. She screams in pain as the magical feedback tears into her body, breaking bones and shredding her wings and an instant later, her projected image vanishes.
There are a number of babaus left in the room after the rift slams shut and they immediately attack. Normally, this kind of encounter at the current adventurer level would be utterly devastating, however the bodies of the Heroes remain bolstered by the magical effects surging through them. During this fight, the Heroes gained DR 10/good, Regeneration 5 ( unholy damage or evil spells), resist acid 10 and fire 10, auto dispel of any 3rd level or lower darkness effect entered, +2d6 damage on attacks against creatures with the evil subtype, and once per round for the encounter, the Hero can add 1d12 to any 1d20 roll that was just made. The babaus are easily dispatched and the power infusing the Heroes fades, but not completely. Exposure to the combined might of the wardstones has awakened legendary potential within each of them and from now on, nothing will be the same for the Worldwound’s newest mythic heroes!
Now, back to Radiance. By luck, I decided to play a paladin of Ragathiel for this adventure path. When Radiance was discovered, the necessary knowledge checks were made to gain information about it. Radiance was the longsword of Yaniel, a powerful paladin of Iomedae who defiantly went into the Worldwound alone to do battle and came back with a small army of crusaders. Radiance, when held by a paladin, counts as a +1 Cold Iron longsword however it will change to your deity’s favored weapon, in this instance a bastard sword, once it bonds to you. As I have leveled and progressed in this adventure path, so has Radiance. Starting at a +1 Cold Iron Bastard Sword, it is currently a +5 Holy Cold Iron bastard sword, and it is rumored to get even more powerful. Honestly, this is probably the coolest piece of loot I’ve ever gotten in a campaign. Actually, if you take a look at a lot of the loot from the entire adventure path, you can see that the addition of mythic items is an incredibly epic way to reward your gods-in-training as they do grander and grander things.
But, this brings me to the end of the first book. I will be creating another post in the next few days detailing our adventures through books #2 Sword of Valor and #3 Demon’s Heresy, and then will begin bi-weekly episodic posts of the current adventure sessions beginning with book #4 The Midnight Isles.